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The Sunday Papers

Sundays! Oh Sundays. What are you for? Only the wise may dare to guess. And the rest of us, well, we must search in the internet for clues.

  • Wired’s feature on the relationship between Peter Molyneux and Adam “Peter Molydeux” Capone is a must-read: “For the time being, Molyneux’s team is still building out some features. A few hours after we have lunch with his family, the game designer and I are at 22Cans, a 600-square-foot unit in a 70-acre office complex near a cramped roundabout. In case anyone forgets his mission, Molyneux has posted printouts every 5 feet around the perimeter of the office that read, “100,000,000 DAUs in 32 months.” CTO Tim Rance gathers the entire staff around his computer for a demonstration. While the idea behind Curiosity is simple, the technological infrastructure is tricky—22Cans needs to find a way to let potentially millions of people see the same dynamic object at the exact same time. When one player smashes a cubelet, it needs to disappear on the screen of every other player around the world at just that moment.”
  • Speaking of Bullfrog and Lionhead, this Eurogamer feature on the lost and cancelled games from the two companies is fascinating: “Conceived in 1991 as a kind of evolutionary puzzler, by 1994, Creation was being touted as a 3D base defence game in which you kept your seabed HQ safe from attackers by, y’know, breeding fish to act as soldiers. The team spent months ensuring that the subsurface landscapes twinkled and shimmered in the correct watery manner, and even now, all it takes is a screenshot depicting a trio of bolshy-looking turtles to summon a little twinge of wistful pain. How weird this seems. How exotic. Could the fish-wrangler genre ever have fitted in alongside the RPG or the squad-based shooter? Why don’t we live in that universe?”
  • Yang’s design bloggings often make me smile. For instance: “Figuring out how to talk about your game is part of designing your game — so trying to explain Convo to various people has been extremely helpful in refining my design goals. My favorite version so far has been, “it’s an attempt to make The Sims accessible for hardcore gamers.””
  • Oh and then back to Eurogamer again for Rab’s ludicrous Dishonored column: “This bedroom’s window is directly above the little porch that juts out above the front door. I’d been out on it many times in my youth, but hadn’t set foot on it in years. Still, what would Corvo do? I opened the window, clambered out onto the porch, and dropped onto the path below. I felt MAGNIFICENT.”
  • What happens when someone who had never played video games is chosen as a judge for some gaming awards? “After this it was a blessed relief to turn to Proteus, a low-budget indie game where nothing happens at all. You simply explore a pretty, pixelated island to the sound of music described in one review as retro-ambient electronica. There is no purpose, no destination, no levels. For 10 minutes I was enraptured. But then I got bored. Proteus is the video game equivalent of James Joyce’s Ulysses, only less eventful. At least Bloom occasionally picks his nose.”
  • And a New Statesman sort-of-defence-but-not-quite of the same: “We need more criticism that is intelligent, personally reflective and nuanced; treating games more like experiences and less like gadgets. We need to critically examine the role of games in culture, because we can only demand more from our media when we understand where they fall short. Sure, video games are fun, but they’re serious fun.”
  • Wagner James Au on “How Dishonored Honors Thief”: “Thief is a huge influence over our team,” the two acknowledged over e-mail. “All these years on, we love that fascinating sketch of a world, with all its murky history and esoteric factions. The way the game is only partially scripted and instead relies on simulation means that the moment to moment experience creates a unique narrative driven by the player’s actions. Thief stands as one of the greatest games ever made.”
  • How Game Tutorials Can Strangle Player Creativity: “What the researchers found was that relative to those in other conditions, children who were given instructions on how to make the toy squeak played with it for shorter amounts of time, did fewer unique actions with it, and discovered fewer of the toy’s other functions.”
  • Are racing sims on the right path? “Offering up a product that adds no depth, no innovative features, and nothing to separate it from the racing sims of five to seven years ago should not be satisfactory to this community. Dumbing down of simulation or just finding new ways to make people pay more money over a longer term is not an answer to increase the audience for simulators. A free-to-play sim will be played by people, for free, once. They won’t like it any more whether it is free or not. Compromising the serious simulation hobbyist, for the casual gamer is a tricky road to take, but just making a sim more accessible and less complex does not mean the casual gamer will jump at it.”
  • A meta-narrative reading of Kingdoms Of Amalur: “I kill the Maid. I want no part in this any more; I give them back their old stories, it seems to be what the majority of them wanted. They return to their boring, fated lives, and I feel sickened. I’m told I am now the Queen of their little story community, since I so totally emasculated the King. Am I not already important and isolated enough? I walk away, back over the pretty fairy bridge and away from this disappointment, back out into the open world that seems, to me, suddenly very closed.”
  • Duncan’s brilliant Left4Dead screens.
  • Sleeping Astronaut Causes Earthquake On The Moon.
  • Clay Shirky: “The Internet allows us to see what other people … think. This has turned out to be a huge disappointment.”
  • Music this week’s music is Pye Corner Audio‘s Sleep Games, which you can preview and buy here. Pye Corner Audio is fast becoming my favourite

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